Category Archives: Current Events

Left for Dead

It’s been a while. My original plan for “coming back” was to wait until immediately after the election, so I could write according to the outcome. But that didn’t work, because as I tried to write, more and more shit kept happening. Now, it would take a novel for me to give my thoughts on everything that has happened since my last entry. What I can do is give a run-down of events and try to find the thread I want to pluck that runs through it all.

First things first, we elected the fascist. Well, “we” didn’t, the bourgeoisie did. Well, maybe not even that, since it seems that big chunks of the bourgeoisie didn’t want him. What appears to have happened is, the Democrats failed miserably, so the other guy took the win. Because liberalism has never been capable of combating fascism properly.

Secondly, the “reasonable Left” immediately decided to bow down to and open their arms for the new administration. Even the “radical” Bernie Sanders has followed the Democrat establishment’s lead in this. This isn’t a surprise to the (actual) radical Left, as liberals have historically tried to work with fascists, especially when it came to putting down revolutionary movements, which have been growing here in the US. But it did come as a surprise to many liberal voters, who are now seeing the weakness in their once-beloved party. The amount of questions and comments I’ve received regarding Marxism over the past 2 weeks has been staggering.

Next, Trump began to pick out his cabinet. Judging from the words of most news outlets, many in this country are “shocked” that the fascist is doing fascist-y things, like appointing a white nationalist to be his chief strategist. But after the initial shock began to wear off, the media and the liberal leaders started the process of normalizing this behavior. Fascists aren’t called fascists, they’re the “alt-right,” in the same way a billionaire isn’t a billionaire, he’s an “outsider.”

I want to emphasize that I am not trying to be an alarmist. Yes, this should all be taken very seriously, but we can’t panic. We must prepare. Taking advice I and others have received from comrades abroad, who are currently dealing with fascist regimes in their respective countries, we need to keep our heads cool and our eyes wide open. We have to see how the various groups of people react, how they handle themselves. We need to build alliances with those groups which show that they are willing to pull their weight in the struggle and adapt to these new circumstances.

We need to separate the wheat from the chaff. By this I mean, there will be some on the Left who will be all too willing to play by bourgeois rules. The majority of liberals will show their true colors–they will, once again, prove themselves to be agents of the bourgeoisie. As I mentioned above, many will turn further Left after witnessing the failures of their former leaders to properly represent the people. But most will stick to the most reactionary tenants of modern liberal ideology: pacifism, rejection of class struggle, divisiveness, chauvinism, ultra-reformism.

Pacifism is nothing short of kneeling while the ruling powers oppress everyone around you. The rejection of class struggle is ultimately just unquestioning loyalty to bourgeois rule. Divisiveness is a by-product of the rejection of class struggle–rather than organizing along class lines and bringing the workers together, the liberals further divide the working class by organizing along racialist lines, or some other bourgeois concept of “otherness.” (You know, the same things right-wingers and white nationalists actively condone). Chauvinism is displayed in their mistrust of the average worker to be capable of accomplishing anything without the Democrats or liberal academics. And the proponents of reformism tell us to simply wait another 2 years, because surely the Democrats will make a comeback in the midterms (ignore the fact that their track record for “taking back control” in recent elections hasn’t been great, and even if they did succeed, there is no way for them to make sure that their control will last).

The aftermath of election day has been heavy (and, sadly, it’s only a taste of things to come), but there has been an effect that I didn’t consider before–the chaff is separating from the wheat all on its own. It is becoming clearer every day who is genuinely concerned with the liberation of the oppressed, and who is more attached to abstract, immaterial principles that all boil down to an attempted justification of the dictatorship of capital, imperialism, and bourgeois rule. The latter group has not been subtle in their disapproval of everything that runs contrary to their ideals. Judging from what I’ve heard and witnessed, they’ll storm out of meetings when they don’t get their way, they’ll shut down conversations if it seems to be veering outside of liberal dogma, they’ll even aid the police in arresting the more “rowdy” protesters.

These are the bearers of the liberal banner, and they are losing credibility to their own followers. Prior to the election, liberals talked a lot about the impending destruction of the GOP (and for good reason, it really did appear that the Republicans were imploding), but now it is the Democrats who are scrambling to keep their establishment together. Their tactics in doing so are only further alienating them from what used to be their base. In their eagerness to be “pragmatic” and cater to the new regime, they’re turning their backs on those who will be most oppressed in the coming years. The liberal activist groups are now losing ground as well, from what I can tell.

They may be desperate, but liberalism still controls Leftist dialogue and action, even after it blatantly revealed its bourgeois nature post-election. In fact, it is a heavier yoke now than it ever was. Desperate times, desperate measures.

The election fallout is not the only example of liberal treachery, though. The event that drove me to write this was the death of Comrade Fidel. The liberal reaction to this may be even more obvious than their reaction to a fascist coming to power. Pro-imperialist, chauvinistic, and reactionary.

You see, these liberals don’t come out and say “I support the US in its attempts to overthrow popular, democratically elected governments in Latin America.” What they do is use the proper American Leftist language to mask these imperialistic stances. Over the past 2 days, the trendy way of talking about Fidel Castro is for white American liberals to say “Listen to the Cubans,” which sounds fine and dandy (if you want to ignore the very racial undertones and the implication that all Cubans think alike), but it quickly became clear that the white liberals really mean “Listen to the few hundred Cubans celebrating in Miami, not the millions mourning in Cuba.”

The defense of this line comes in the form of claiming that those of us who are fond of Fidel Castro and Revolutionary Cuba are “silencing” the voices of Cuban immigrants. This defense of imperialism portrays itself as considerate and caring, while it silences the voices of an entire country. It is doing the very thing it claims to be opposing, and on a larger scale.

Another fallacy of this line is that it is just as weak as a racist saying that they have a Black friend. The white liberals might know a Cuban person, so they believe that this one person’s stance is the correct one and it cannot be questioned. Well, I know a few people from the island as well, and they don’t have a negative word to say about Fidel. Are you going to silence them, or try to de-legitimize their experiences?

cuba-mourns

Cubans mourning the death of Fidel Castro

I may be getting off track by now, but the point is that this is an example of liberal treachery. Masking pro-imperialist stances in Left-sounding lingo. They say they want to listen to “Cuban voices,” but only those voices which are already in agreement with the pre-constructed liberal ideas and stances. How convenient. When all is said and done, the current liberal stance on the issue of Cuba is that it was wrong for Cuba to gain independence, and things were “better off” when the US puppet regime was still in power in that country. It all boils down to the belief that the Cuban people only deserve a voice if they’re saying things that paint US imperialism in a good light. The entire country rose up and made their voices heard in 1959, but the American liberals have refused to listen.

This is the cancerous thread that runs through the Left: liberalism. To be clear, there are those who claim to be liberals who actually do fight for the people with all their strength, however misguided. I have worked and will continue to work with them, out of necessity. But that does not mean liberalism is not dangerous, and those who push for its control of the Left are continuously proving themselves to be traitors to the people. Traitors to the Left itself. They’ll concede to the most vile reactionaries, they’ll stomp on the images of those who risked their lives fighting US imperialism (often while claiming to be anti-imperialist), they’ll trade in the well-being of the people in favor of ensuring the continuance of bourgeois rule.

It is important to note that liberalism is not a line exclusive to members and supporters of the Democratic Party. Many self-proclaimed revolutionaries hold these traits just as closely as the mainstream liberals do. The traits of liberalism are found in the claim that “socialism has never existed.” Liberalism is present in anti-communist propaganda being accepted in “communist” groups. It is present in Utopianism and in holding every revolution to impossible standards, resulting in the liberal condemnation of every successful revolution. It is Right-deviationism and the Putinite trend.

How do we fight it? Well, I’m no theoretician, and I think that is obvious. There are thousands of others who have lived and fought and explained this all better than I ever could. The simplest way I can put it is: We need to engage with those willing to work through disagreements, because these are dangerous times we are entering. Those who are not willing are literally and figuratively walking out the door. However, working alongside those who disagree with the theories of Marxism-Leninism does not mean we need to be quiet. Some will try to silence us, but we will not let that happen.

The heart of liberalism is the defense of capital–that is what it has always been. Liberals will not hesitate to leave us for dead, whether they be pro-US anti-communists, or Putinite ultra-revisionists; capitalism-imperialism is the side they have chosen. This is an ideological battle we must fight, while also remaining practical in the bigger fight against fascism.

We will march with them against the rise of fascism, but we will not put down the banner of Marxism-Leninism. We must prove to all that we are more than willing to dive onto the frontlines of this struggle. We will risk our necks for the people. Fear is natural, but it is also a reminder of why this fight is necessary. Fascism cannot remain in power, and we must expose the fact that, at the end of the day, liberalism cannot save us. It never has.

“Liberalism stems from petty-bourgeois selfishness, it places personal interests first and the interests of the revolution second, and this gives rise to ideological, political and organizational liberalism.

People who are liberals look upon the principles of Marxism as abstract dogma. They approve of Marxism, but are not prepared to practice it or to practice it in full; they are not prepared to replace their liberalism by Marxism. These people have their Marxism, but they have their liberalism as well–they talk Marxism but practice liberalism; they apply Marxism to others but liberalism to themselves. They keep both kinds of goods in stock and find a use for each. This is how the minds of certain people work.

Liberalism is a manifestation of opportunism and conflicts fundamentally with Marxism. It is negative and objectively has the effect of helping the enemy; that is why the enemy welcomes its preservation in our midst. Such being its nature, there should be no place for it in the ranks of the revolution.

We must use Marxism, which is positive in spirit, to overcome liberalism, which is negative. A Communist should have largeness of mind and he should be staunch and active, looking upon the interests of the revolution as his very life and subordinating his personal interests to those of the revolution; always and everywhere he should adhere to principle and wage a tireless struggle against all incorrect ideas and actions, so as to consolidate the collective life of the Party and strengthen the ties between the Party and the masses; he should be more concerned about the Party and the masses than about any private person, and more concerned about others than about himself. Only thus can he be considered a Communist.

All loyal, honest, active and upright Communists must unite to oppose the liberal tendencies shown by certain people among us, and set them on the right path. This is one of the tasks on our ideological front.” -Mao Tse-Tung, Combat Liberalism

Peace & Love & Liberal Nonsense

The face you make after you cut off your serf’s hand for marrying the wrong person.

A lot has been going on since my last entry. I haven’t been able to write anything in regards to the recent surge of mass activism because, for one, I am doing what I can to help or at least attend those actions in my area, but I also have a lot of personal stuff going on that’s neither here nor there.
But I have finally found the time to lay down some of my thoughts here. Specifically — and not for the first time — the liberal response to the aforementioned surge in activity. Yes, I’ve written about the liberal’s soft-spot for window panes and convenience stores before, but I haven’t really dug any deeper into the ideologies behind their — for lack of a better term — wet-noodlism. Pacifism, respectability politics, neo-hippy paternalism — each a bane to social progress.

The liberals of today like to think of themselves as the “reasonable Left,” and by that they mean they are pseudo-Leftists who are more than willing to reason with the oppressors. However, there are liberals of other sorts promoting similar or identical tactics, but from a seemingly “non-politicized” or “unbiased” point — in other words, the politically apathetic social-agnostics and/or spiritualists who don’t experience oppression (or just don’t acknowledge it) and therefore think of it as something much lighter than it really is. Lighter means easier to conquer, and that basically means asking the bourgeoisie to kindly lay off a little bit. Or not even ask at all, just ignore it and it will go away. Or, worst of all, they even tell the oppressed to love their oppressor. Striking workers should love those whom they are stiking against. Anti-racists should love white supremacists. And, regarding recent events, People of Color should love the police.

No matter the reasoning behind it, pacifism, in all its forms, serves the interests of the oppressors.

Two members of the liberal pantheon of posterchilds are George Orwell and Mahatma Gandhi — the former is well-regarded for his supposed “anti-authoritarianism” and the latter for his pacifism. Both figures are pretty well-suited to be canonized in liberal ideology: Orwell, the man who snitched on Communists for the British government; and Gandhi, British imperialism’s favorite kind of “activist.”

Liberal dogma has placed Gandhi on a pedestal as the prime example of what an activist should be — passive and non-violent. Decades of violent fighting for Indian independence has been overshadowed by this one man’s image. Hundreds — even thousands — of Indian revolutionaries are forgotten, while every imperialist ideologue sings high praises of this figure of pacifism as if he and he alone won independence for the country, not those actually fighting, bleeding, and dying for the cause.

There is a reason why the imperialist oppressors would rather praise the pacifists than the actual revolutionaries — the pacifists are not the real threat to their power. The other liberal idol I mentioned, George Orwell, was, as an anti-communist snitch, naturally well aware of why the British imperialists tolerated and endorsed the worship of someone like Gandhi, as he stated:

“As an ex-Indian civil servant, it always makes me shout with laughter to hear, for instance, Gandhi named as an example of the success of non-violence. As long as twenty years ago it was cynically admitted in Anglo-Indian circles that Gandhi was very useful to the British government. So he will be to the Japanese if they get there. Despotic governments can stand ‘moral force’ till the cows come home; what they fear is physical force.”

This realization should be taken into account along with that well-known quote from Assata Shakur:

“Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them.”

That is precisely what the “reasonable Left” wants to do: appeal to the moral sense of the oppressor. We are told to respect the authority of a state which serves the interests of social parasites and exploiters. We can conduct sit-ins and form drum circles, but we are never to question the legitimacy of the oppressor class or its murderous state. Meaning liberation is out of the picture, for the pacifists see the oppression of the masses as less of a crime than the abolition of capitalist excess and exploitation.

This is why civilians who kill cops get blown to pieces by robots, but cops who kill civilians get paid administrative leave, despite the latter being paid to protect people, not the former. According to the dominant liberal ideology, the masses must behave, or they will face much harsher consequences than the pawns of the bourgeoisie who commit the very same crimes, and on a much larger scale. It is perfectly acceptable for a cop-killer to be blown up, but killer-cops “deserve a fair trial.”

Image by Carlos Latuff

Of course, I do not condone the attacks in Dallas or Baton Rouge, but I am saying that, when a community is facing death on a daily basis from an institution that acts with impunity, a backlash should be expected. The neo-hippies are always saying “Violence only creates more violence,” but then act surprised when a violent institution that is continuously murdering people receives a dose of violence against itself. This hypocritical contradiction boils down to something very simple: pacifism is an ideological tool to point blame at the oppressed while in the end defending the oppressor. It is not progressive. It is not revolutionary. It is condescending, chauvinistic, and patronizing to the oppressed.White folks telling Black folks how to behave “properly” in their anger; the wealthy telling the poor to “be content” and “ask nicely”; those who say “just ignore them and they will go away” in regards to neo-fascists, Klansmen, and racist cops — these are the tunes of the pacifist choir, and they all come from a place of privilege, safety, and plain old arrogance. Their subjectivity is almost post-modern, and just like post-modernism, it is useless at best, damaging at worst.

How is it useless? Gandhi’s letter to Hitler(in which he refers to the furor as his “friend” in the first fucking sentence) did a lot less to end the Nazi Party’s bloody reign than Soviet and partisan bullets. No revolution in history has ever succeeded by requesting liberation from the yoke of oppression. They have always and will always take the form of a violent overthrow, by necessity.

How is it damaging? Well, besides laying down in the face of a death, it also inspires apathy in the long run, leading to defeatism. It legitimizes inhumane rule and idolizes the rulers in its own way. Being an aspect of the liberal ideology, it picks and chooses in accordance with the interests of the ruling class. The early Soviet Union proved that socialism and predatory wars are mutually exclusive, but the Soviet Union is still demonized. On the other hand, Tibet, under the rule of the Dalai Lama was burdened under the yoke of feudalism, violent theocracy, serfdom, and even slavery, but the Dalai Lama himself is yet another posterboy for so-called “passive resistance,” even though what he supported was a system more oppressive than most of today’s world, and what he resists is the secularism and anti-feudalism that rose up post-liberation. (Note: This is not a defense of the Chinese state, but Buddhist rule of Tibet was not all meditation and unicorns.)

Pacifism is purely a tool of the bourgeoisie. It has never and will never be capable of properly combating classism, racism, patriarchy, or oppression of any kind when put into practice. Its most diehard disciples are complicit in the actions of the ruling system. The militantly neutral have, in reality, already picked a side (the wrong side), and the self-proclaimed “passive resistors” are nothing but a burden to the movement of liberation.

Do not tell us to love those in positions of power who are killing the people they are supposed to protect. Do not tell us to respect a system that wants to use the majority of us as disposable tools for profit. Do not tell those facing death because of the color of their skin to show love towards the institution that perpetuates the real violence towards them and their families.

Claiming to have aligned chakras, or knowing a couple of quotes from MLK, or pretending to be ideologically “above” all sides of the issue do not make you qualified to tell working and poor revolutionaries what to do or how to respond to acts of aggression from the bourgeois dictatorship. Heal yourself with crystals all you like. Post heart-warming cop stories on social media. Send out your thoughts and prayers. Just stop trying to act like anyone should listen to you, because what you’re proposing is essentially nothing more than inaction, so there is no point.

Stop using the issue-of-the-week to boost your own ego and preach about your “enlightenment.” You aren’t helping anyone.
-SFB

Golden Heart Misanthropy

When it comes to beasts the bourgeois have the tenderness of angels. They feel themselves to be closer relatives of beasts than of workers.

-Paul Lafargue, Bourgeois Sentimentalism, 1881

The above quotation is how Paul Lafargue begins the short piece Bourgeois Sentimentalism, and that is the very topic I want to try to cover today–bourgeois sentimentalism. That mask of tear-jerking, charitable philanthropy hiding the bourgeoisie’s at best indifferent, at worst disdainful view of the mass of humanity, the toiling oppressed.

The label “philanthropist” is a quick and easy defense mechanism for the oppressors to use whenever their oppression is being exposed. More CEOs, finance giants, celebrities, and other members or allies of the owning class are more well known in the social world for their “humble philanthropy” than their ruthless exploitation of workers around the world. We’re supposed to applaud the wealthy minority whenever they “give back” that which they have stolen, or when they take some small step to “make up for” the disasters enacted by their class and the system it oversees.

But even in this, there is something of a hierarchy of good-heartedness. We hear more about those members of the bourgeois who give a fraction of their wealth to help animal life than we do about those who give to organizations who feed the hungry. This isn’t to say that those who do the latter should be called heroes, when it is their class that allows so many to go hungry in the first place. (The problem is that we live in a society where these insufficient charities are necessary.) The point is that the bourgeoisie can’t hide their hate towards the working masses, because, if they did try to hide it, the people might start feeling empowered themselves. Bourgeois sentimentalism towards beasts is a better form of propaganda, casting humanity as the “evil” and thus hindering the formation of mass unity in the name of what basically comes down to misanthropy.

Bourgeois sentimentalism is for everything and everyone, except for the oppressed.

I’m sure that by now everyone knows the name of Harambe, the silverback gorilla that was recently shot at the Cincinnati Zoo. The incident was, indeed, a tragedy. An endangered species lost one of its members. There is nothing fun or entertaining in that. However, what I find bothersome are the reactions of many people following the incident. This is the latest evidence in the case against bourgeois sentimentalism and its social effects.

I am not a zoologist or an expert in any way. But neither are a lot of people, though some seem to think using a hashtag is all the training they would need. They read a few articles meant to tug at their heartstrings, and now they seem to think they would have handled the situation perfectly. Some claim they have come up with a method where no child or animal could have been hurt(much like the gun-toting conservatives who respond to any case of mass shooting with “If I had been there…”). And some others have thought of a much more gruesome(and telling) solution–let the kid die because the parents were “stupid”.

Yes, since the parents weren’t as intelligent as some person posting a status on Facebook, a child should have been left to the mercies of a gorilla ten times his size.

There is nothing wrong with mourning the death of a beautiful animal, but there is most certainly something wrong with putting the life of that animal above the life of a human child. And this is exactly what is wrong with bourgeois sentimentalism–heartlessness behind a veil of a very conditional form of caring. Human life is already trumped by the profit motive, so why not put it beneath animal life as well?

I don’t want to enter the pointless, retrospective debate about what should have been done. But I do want to say that there was no “good” outcome in the realm of possiblities. If the gorilla had turned violent, there would still be people blaming the zoo(and rightfully so, in that case). The mother of the child would still be shamed by the keyboard warriors. And those calling for the release of these endangered animals seem to forget where and how these creatures became endangered in the first place. Yes, the zoo needs more protective barriers. But the fact is that we can’t go back in time–the kid fell in and a decision had to be made. I believe the zookeepers made the right call, but that’s neither here nor there.

Anyway, I’m not one to compete in the Edginess Olympics by saying that everyone needs to worry about everything equally. But that doesn’t apply when it comes to human rights versus animal rights, especially when the former is being sacrificed for the latter. This is the strength of bourgeois sentimentalism: Among the politically apathetic, there are always spikes in caring about one issue or another, but never when those issues affect human life. Those who can go about their lives never thinking about the plight of the oppressed will put everything on hold when an animal is harmed, or when a natural space is being invaded by us terrible humans. They wait for the right opportunity to show off their enormous hearts, but only when it doesn’t step on their angsty, misanthropic personas.

Whenever the Chinese festival of Yulin comes around, I have to prepare myself for the avalanche of racist comments coming from these golden-hearted liberals. This is when their national-cultural chauvinism really comes out. Now, personally, I love dogs, but I understand that this connection is a cultural norm where I live, and that there are different cultures and traditions all around the world. Not every culture views certain animals in the same way we do, nor should they be forced to.

If you don’t see the problem, let me spell it out. People who never show any interest for any movement working for the betterment of human life(who often, actually, show a clear disdain for such movements) will suddenly become temporary internet activists. They’ll scroll right past videos of police brutalizing an African-American and search for videos of dead animals to share around in their moment of caring. Even worse, they’ll repeat the words of a pretentious rock icon and call the Chinese people “less than human.”

Let’s get this straight, folks who are angry that animals are being eaten decide that the best way to criticize it is by making incredibly racist comments, call a billion humans a “subspecies,” and all in the name of creatures who are legitimately of another species. Not only is that horrifically offensive, it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, and it shows the real ideology behind bourgeois sentimentalism. Reactionary, privileged, and fascistic.

image

In case you needed to see another example of what I'm talking about.

The faux-progressivism created by bourgeois sentimentalism is felt everywhere. In my city, there is a campaign going on to save an historic piece of land from being used for overflow parking for the local zoo. There is nothing at all intrinsically wrong with that. Sure, it’s frustrating to see a bunch of people going on picnics and calling it a “protest,” but they aren’t hurting anyone in doing so. But the problem becomes evident when you see the numbers these people can bring out, and then compare it to the relatively smaller turnout for protests against low wages or police brutality. When I and others have brought this up, the default response has been, “Well, we can care about both poverty and the park!” And that is a true statement. But the fact is, they only act on one and not the other. I told everyone I knew who participated in that campaign about an upcoming Fight for $15 rally. Not a single one of them showed up, even those who said they would. I complimented their efforts in their campaign and told them that we could use their skills in organizing, but they had apparently given all they had to that field of grass.

I’m not trying to be an elitist here, but I won’t stop saying that the human condition is of more importance than shallow sentimentalism. I don’t think of myself as better than any of those people, but I certainly get the feeling that they think that way towards anyone who doesn’t share their militancy on that particular issue.

So, this is what bourgeois sentimentalism results in: A false sense of nobility in caring about anything except the oppressed masses. A cheap attempt at feigning empathy. Indifference, racism, and anti-workerism disguised as good deeds. A way to make the people feel as if they are doing something when they aren’t fighting the sources of the world’s problems or uprooting this oppressive, exploitative system.

If you don’t care about your fellow humans, don’t pretend to care at all. We see right through you.

-SFB

Turning the Tables: Short and Sweet

Bourgeois anti-Communism knows no bounds when it comes to unreliable, irrational and unfounded criticism. Anti-communists will jump onto anything they can find that makes communism out to be monstrous and bloodthirsty. I’ve written before about their use of “yellow media” and even Nazi propaganda. But that isn’t the only ridiculous source they have utilized. Recently, Snopes had to debunk an article from the fucking Onion about Cuba because anti-communists were leaping onto it as if it was true. It occasionally gets so bad that even bourgeois outlets like The Guardian have had to admit that most coverage of North Korea is bogus, as, time and again, those people reported to have been executed in the DPRK have shown up alive and well on television, and defectors are often offered higher pay for scarier stories. The same is true for the coverage of the socialist states of the past as well.

What most of this proves, also, is that socialist or perceived socialist states are held up to standards that the bourgeois intellectuals never set for their favored capitalist states. It is well known that the US has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world, higher than the USSR ever had, and yet we are told to think of the Soviet Union as some bloated police state and the US as some bastion of freedom. Bourgeois historians often cite suicide rates as proof of “state oppression,” but only when it can be applied to socialist or “unfavorable” states. Suicide in capitalist countries are just “isolated incidents” of sadness, having nothing to do with the system as a whole, except when that system isn’t to the bourgeoisie’s liking. For bourgeois anti-communists, socialism must work absolutely perfectly in order to be considered anything other than barbaric, but capitalism’s crimes and inefficiencies are just quirks that are part of the beautiful unpredictability of the free market, or whatever.

Not only is socialism held to higher standards than capitalism in large-scale matters, but also, and most annoyingly, in anecdotal commentary. “It works on paper, but…”, “It goes against human nature,” “It discourages innovation.” If I were to point out how it raised the standards of living for the vast majority of people living under socialism, I am told it is inefficient. If I point out how socialism effectively industrialized backwater nations faster than capitalism ever has, proving its efficiency, I am told that it did so at the expense of the people’s well-being. Do you see the contradiction there?

All of this becomes even more clear when the workers in capitalist countries start fighting for their class interests. Every time there is a spike in the Fight for $15 movement, the anti-workerists start spouting off reasons why raising the minimum wage wouldn’t work, and in doing so they mistakenly provide support for socialism by proving that their precious system of exploitation doesn’t work, either in treatment of the people or economically. If a system is to be judged by how it provides for the people or in economic efficiency, the right-wingers’ are basically admitting that capitalism does neither very well.

Let’s take a minute to turn the tables on the various arguments that Rightists use in their opposition to workers’ rights, and put it up to the same standards against which they judge socialism. (Note: I am not trying to imply that the following is anything more than anecdotal. These are not legitimate or useful arguments when I use them, but they aren’t legitimate or useful when anti-communists use them either, which is my whole point.)

Rightist: “If workers are paid more, prices would sky-rocket.”
Response: Then capitalism isn’t efficient enough to care for the people–which is the whole point of every -ism.

Rightist: “If employers are forced to pay their workers higher wages, they will just cut jobs.”
Response: Then capitalism must only work on paper.

Rightist: “Fast food jobs are supposed to be temporary, but too many people are using them as full-time jobs.”
Response: Then capitalism must go against human nature.

Rightist: “No one has any work ethic anymore, they’re all lazy.”
Response: Same as above.

Rightist: “If workers have to be paid more, more jobs will just become automated.”
Response: Then. Capitalism. Doesn’t. Work.

How do these anti-worker reactionaries not see the logical conclusions of what they’re saying? In all of these standard arguments, they admit that capitalism lacks the efficiency to take care of the people, and they shout it like it’s a good thing. Like it somehow proves capitalism’s “inherent goodness,” when it does the very opposite. They are proving they care more about defending their ideology than about how well it works(or doesn’t work).

In all seriousness, anecdotal bullshit aside, the Rightists have to admit one of two things if they take their own words seriously: either 1) Capitalism isn’t capable of doing the very thing they claim it does best–providing equal opportunity and being efficient enough that the people’s basic needs are met, or 2) It is capable of providing a living wage and benefits, but such measures are being blocked by the capitalist owners of industry.

Because, you see, none of these reactionaries complain about price hikes when executives are given millions of dollars in bonuses or raises. No one complains about the bourgeois bosses making 5-digits every hour, when most of those bosses have never produced a single thing in their lives. No one whines when those who don’t produce reap the benefits of production. The arguments against a higher wage all revolve around “work ethic,” but where is the work ethic of the CEOs who profit from labor they don’t take part in?

This is the real capitalist work ethic: Try your best to get others to do the work for you so you can sit in an office and make a profit from their labor. Undeserved luxury, inherited wealth, exploitation–these are the virtues of capitalist “work ethic.” The workers making $7.25 an hour are not lazy for wanting a bigger piece of the pie for their labor, the bosses of industry are the lazy ones, and they’re who we are supposed to look up to. No one points a finger at them for not working while they rake in the profits. And yet, socialism allegedly “brainwashes” people into “blind acceptance of authority.”

No, the fact that the bourgeoisie has people pointing fingers at those who actually do the work is more than enough proof that it is they who are propagating falsehoods. It is they who despise any form of “work ethic,” and this is no more apparent than in their hatred of workers.

The above anecdotes may not be genuine, honest arguments, but the gist of them is essentially true when applied to capitalism. The argument that the capitalist economy can’t handle the pressure of providing for the people is just proof of a critical point Marx and Engels bring up in the Communist Manifesto:

“Hitherto, every form of society has been based, as we have already seen, on the antagonism of oppressing and oppressed classes. But in order to oppress a class certain conditions must be assured to it under which it can, at least, continue its slavish existence. The serf, in the period of serfdom, raised himself to membership in the commune, just as the petty bourgeoisie, under the yoke of feudal absolutism, managed to develop into a bourgeoisie. The modern laborer, on the contrary, instead of rising with the progress of industry sinks deeper and deeper below the conditions of existence of his own class. He becomes a pauper, and pauperism develops more rapidly than population and wealth. And here it becomes evident that the bourgeoisie is unfit any longer to be the ruling class in society and to impose its conditions of existence upon society as an over-riding law. It is unfit to rule because it is incompetent to ensure an existence to its slave within his slavery, because it cannot help letting him sink into such a state that it has to feed him instead of being fed by him. Society can no longer live under this bourgeoisie, in other words, its existence is no longer compatible with society.

So, just for a moment, let’s assume that raising the minimum wage under capitalism is impossible(it’s not impossible, just not favorable to the ruling class and its dictatorship). If we take the reactionary’s word for it, if we are to believe that it is, indeed, impossible for the wages to be raised without “destroying the economy,” then all this does is, once again, prove that Marx got it right over a century ago. It only further validates the theories of communism that the rule of the bourgeoisie, capitalism, has run its course and that it is no longer useful–but is, rather, a hindrance–to society’s development.

The reactionaries, with almost every breath, prove the necessity of a socialist revolution, even if they don’t realize it. Thanks for the ammunition. You are continuously giving the workers the tools we need to dig your grave.

-SFB

Rightists Are Too Fucking Sensitive

In my last post, I discussed the current state of the American Left. I talked about the problems stemming from lazy discourse and the refusal of some to face the world head-on, as we are supposed to if we want to call ourselves revolutionaries. My main issues with that mindset are 1) the sectarianism of “call-out culture”, and 2) the rejection of the class struggle in favor of identitarianism. But I did not mean it to be an attack against my comrades. I simply don’t want us to lose sight of our goals.

But today I want to go a little deeper into this issue of sensitivity. How it affects discourse, how it shuts down conversations, and who is actually doing all the damage. I’m about to say something that goes against the mainstream portrayal of who’s “too sensitive,” but it is something that has become more and more obvious as the days go by:

No one is more sensitive, whiny, mouth-foamingly insecure as right-wingers. They win the Biggest Cry Baby Award by a longshot. Seriously, it’s gotten so bad that talking to them is almost pointless. They will get offended at even the most innocent claim or question. They will call others names like they think they’re in a VH1 reality show shouting match rather than a debate. They’ll use sarcasm rather than argument. They’ll cry about “MY TAX MONEY!!” when that doesn’t have anything to do with the discussion (it’s like their default response when backed into a corner).

Don’t believe me? Ok, next time a Rightist tells you that the Left is “too sensitive,” remind them that Harriet Tubman is going to be on our currency, or that cops sometimes murder innocent people, or just show them a Beyonce music video. When they’re done flipping the fuck out and shivering with anger, ask them who’s too sensitive.

While the Left is getting mad and fighting back against racism, misogynistic violence, discrimination, murder-by-cop, and perpetual war, the Rightists are collectively crying about having to eventually see someone’s face on a piece of paper that looks different than them, or who gets to take a shit in which bathroom, or science being taught in science class, or someone using an EBT card, or other people following a religion of their choice (or none at all), or the existence of humans who think differently than them. They’ll laugh at those suffering from PTSD, and then get “triggered” themselves just because *GASP* there are people out there who aren’t exactly like them. THE HORROR!

Besides everything listed above, there is a new demon the right-wingers feel the need to exorcise: the dreaded millenials. Yes, apparently all of the world’s problems can be blamed on a generation that has only been in adulthood for less than a decade. None of us hold any public office. None of us are writing legislation. None of us really have any political power–as far as the bourgeois state goes. We’ve been of voting age for two presidential elections at most, in races run by boomers. But I guess at some point in our childhood or teen years, we really fucked up. I’m not sure how we put the economy in the tank while we were on the school playground, or how we incarcerated millions of people while we were at summer camp, or how we started so many wars and acts of military aggression while we were learning how to drive. But, apparently, it’s all our fault.

Not really, though.

This is just an example of the Rightists shifting the blame onto others, and it has got to be one of the strangest cases of scapegoating in history. For you right-wingers who seem to have forgotten all about the concept of time, let me spell it out for you in the simplest way I can: As far as the political/economic/social scene goes, we just got here. It’s like we millenials were forced to go to a house party that we really didn’t want to attend because the people throwing it are notorious for making everything terrible, and before we even arrived some shitbag from Texas broke a lamp and pissed all over the living room floor. Then, as soon as we walked through the door, the hosts of the party started screaming at us to clean up the mess and telling us that Texas Shitbag wouldn’t have done any of that if we had dressed appropriately and didn’t use our goddamn phones so much. (By the way, who invented the smart-phone? Which generation created such an evil device and sold it for profit?)

Blaming any specific generation for society’s shortcomings is a new level of ignorance. The boomers can’t be entirely blamed for the actions of the past–many of them fought against the issues of their time, and continue to do so. Same with us and every other generation. Not a single generation in history was monolithic when it came to political ideology or action. Economic crises, imperialist war, class oppression–none of these are the fault of any given generation, they are the products of capitalism. But millenials are seen as the exception to this fact, for reasons that are never given.

Ok, I’m getting off of this whole generation thing now. I just have one more thing to say on the subject: Right-wingers, please, please, PLEASE keep doing this. By demonizing the up-and-coming generations, by alienating them, by ridiculing them, by rejecting them, you are basically ensuring your own downfall. You are doing the Left’s job for us. I may call you an ignorant asshole for it, but I also want to thank you for isolating yourselves. It’s probably the best thing you have ever done for the people and our future. Good work.

Anyway. We can clearly see that it isn’t the Left that is “too sensitive.” The Right is mistaking “sensitivity” for “not gonna take your shit anymore.” If anything, when looking at the history of the Left, and the struggles we have waged in past and present, it is us who have the stronger backbone. Revolutions, mass strikes, facing off against the most powerful institutions in existence–this is our legacy. The legacy of the reactionaries? Fear of change, complacency, stepping on the downtrodden, hiding behind the barricades of the bourgeoisie’s military and police apparatus–the actions of cowards. When college students want to prevent and put an end to rape on campus, they are laughed at. When a Rightist witnesses something as simple as a parent using food stamps to feed their children, they act so traumatized that they feel the need to explode in rage. So, sexual violence is “no big deal” and the Leftists “need to stop whining about it,” but GOD FUCKING FORBID ANYONE BUY A SNICKERS BAR WITH EBT.

All of this is an example of the more general problems with bourgeois, reactionary ideology. There are plenty of others. For instance, last month, when millions of workers around the world protested low wages and demanded higher pay and a union, the Rightists, once again, got all worked up. At the demonstration in my city, hundreds of people stood outside of a McDonald’s, holding signs and chanting. We received mostly positive responses from those driving by, but we also got a few pieces of that sage right-wing advice from drivers who were so upset at what they saw that they felt the need to take their eyes off the road, roll down their windows, scream at us while giving us the finger and almost cause a wreck. Now that is what I would call “too sensitive.” We all laughed at them and just chanted louder.

But reactionary inconsistency doesn’t end with their whining. Something else I noticed in the reactions to the Fight for $15 protests were the oddly familiar arguments the capitalists used. They said that fast food jobs are supposed to be temporary, but that “lazy people” weren’t moving on. Now, if I were to turn the tables, I could say that, by their own arguments, they are proving two things: 1) Capitalism isn’t working the way it’s supposed to (or, “it only works on paper”), and 2) Then capitalism must go against “human nature.” Strange how I feel like I’ve heard these two arguments used before, except they were used against socialism. Very weird, but that is a subject for another day.

So, in conclusion, I hope this rambling, disorganized rant of mine set some things straight. The Left isn’t “weak,” or “too sensitive,” or “sheltered” by fighting and speaking out against oppression and exploitation. It is the Right that has filled its ranks with people who are utterly terrified of change, who shake at the thought of anyone being different than them, who cry when they aren’t allowed to control the bodies and lives of others. They even go so far as being afraid of people who are younger than them.

As the political environment becomes more and more polarized and the Left grows by the day, the reactionaries are shaking in their boots while they laugh nervously. They may be playing arrogant right now, but when that horrifying Red Tide comes to shore, they’ll be clamoring for a safe space of their own. Good luck.

-SFB

Fascism and the State of the Left

I have been wanting to write this piece for a while, but wanted to wait to see what more could be dug up, what more could happen in the days or weeks since I originally thought about it. After the events that took place in Chicago last night, I figured the time had come.

In my previous post, I briefly mentioned how “fascism” or “fascist” is one of the most over-used terms people use in political discussions and debates. It has gotten to the point that the word is used almost always outside of its historically recognized context. I mentioned how anything from classical conservatism to Marxism-Leninism has been labeled as “fascism” without any explanation of how those things are connected to the very real fascist movements and regimes of history, and the ones that exist today. This has to stop because fascism is not something to be taken lightly. It is a real issue and a real threat, and it should not be confused with things that it is not, so we don’t lose sight of this threat and what it could entail.

But there are movements and people who could be called fascist, without us needing to part from historical reality. And we are watching one such movement gain strength here in the US.

I’m sure you know what I am talking about, and who is at the forefront of this ultra-reactionary movement. No, I am not being hyperbolic, and no, this isn’t a case of me and other Leftists simply not liking Trump and his supporters. There are very legitimate reasons for the Trumpites to be labeled as such. Let’s get into those reasons.

FASCISM IN THE USA

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Worth a thousand words. From: the Chicago Tribune

First of all, I would like to direct you to this piece from the Red Phoenix which goes into a good bit of detail regarding the history of fascism and its ideological staples. I am not going to talk much history here. I am focused on the characteristics of fascism and how they match up to the current Trumpite movement.

Though, as I have said above, fascism has a historically recognized meaning, it never comes to power in the same way twice, and there were quite a lot of differences between the various fascist regimes. This is due to fascism’s ultra-nationalist character–the method used in one nation won’t necessarily work in another, as it is bound up in the most reactionary elements of each nation it takes a hold of. However, there are enough similarities between each of these movements that we can say that fascism is an ideology in and of itself, and not just pure, mob-like populism.

These similarities include:

-A strong emphasis on nationhood and unquestioning patriotism.
-Violent and repressive anti-Communism and anti-liberalism.
-A hatred of immigrants, including calls for mass deportation.
-A romanticized idea of the “Great Nation”, often exaggerated to mythical proportions.
-Highly institutionalized misogyny and repression of women.
-Unquestioning loyalty to the nation’s charismatic leader, who is seen as the personification of the “Great Nation”.
-Using religious and/or racial minorities as scapegoats.
-The rejection of class struggle, replacing it with a veil of collaborationism in the form of nationalism.
-Romanticization of conflict, imperialist and expansionist adventures, militarism, and “direct action” through the use of violence.
-An emphasis on vitalism, national energy, youth, and nationalist heroism.
-A rejection of rationalism in favor of irrationalism and romanticism.
-The promotion of a “Third Way” that is supposed to be above both capitalism and communism.

Now, one might say that the US already has many, if not all, of these characteristics, but that is false. While these characteristics are present, they are on a relatively small scale compared to the fascist regimes of history. I am allowed to run this blog, criticism of the nation’s leader is still held as a protected right, etc. etc.

However, since fascism is the most reactionary and violent form of bourgeois rule, it is possible for it to rise up from within the bourgeois state (which is exactly how Hitler came to power). And I believe that is what we are witnessing right now.

Trump’s supporters might point out that he isn’t calling for mass genocide and he doesn’t label himself as a fascist, so there’s no way he is anything like Hitler. What they fail to realize is, Hitler didn’t talk about murdering millions of people during his rise. What he did call for was a cleansing that involved the deportation of the “undesirable” people living in Germany(see: the Madagascar Plan). Secondly, of course Trump isn’t going to call himself a fascist–like I said, fascism takes a different form depending on the nation the fascists are trying to control, and it would only hinder Trump’s nationalist goals if he labeled himself after the regimes the US fought in World War II. Whatever he calls himself does not matter–his actions and promises do.

I don’t think I need to say much about Trump’s obvious romantic nationalism–his campaign slogan already says everything that needs to be said on that subject. “Make America Great Again”. Again, as in, “let’s go back to the days of segregation, traditional values, when the patriarchy was at its strongest.” He, like every fascist leader of the past, plays off of a romantic view of national history. He stands firmly on the foundation of a mythical idea of Americanism.

Then there are the other characteristics of fascism that he holds to. Scapegoating religious minorities? Check. Hatred of immigrants? Check. Demanding unquestioning loyalty to him? Check. Romanticization of violence? Check. Calling for imperialist war? Double check. A misogynistic view of women? Check. Anti-Communism coupled with anti-liberalism? Check. I would go on, but I really don’t think I need to.

And then there is apparent fondness for openly self-proclaimed fascists, like when he retweeted a post from a white-supremacist neo-Nazi twitter account, or when he tweeted a quote attributed to Mussolini, or when he refused to condemn the fucking KKK, claiming that he “doesn’t know enough about them”(I think it’s safe to say that if he doesn’t know enough about the Klan, he doesn’t know enough about US history to be allowed into the Oval Office).

Then there is his terrifying charisma and rhetoric, which has lead to his followers committing acts of violence, both during his rallies and outside of them. It doesn’t matter if the anti-Trump protesters are loud and harsh or quiet and peaceful–if you have any objection to the potential rule of Il Duce 2.0, you are a target. Mussolini had his blackshirts, Hitler had his brownshirts. Trump’s supporters might not have an official uniform, but their actions are the same–mobs of reactionary thugs terrorizing anyone who dares to question their leader.

And he doesn’t just get support from fascists and neo-Nazis here in the US. Far-right reactionaries around the world are applauding his campaign, including both Vladimir Putin and the creator of the fascist “Fourth Way” ideology, Alexander Dugin.

Many still consider Trump’s campaign to be a joke, sometimes attending his rallies expecting to get a few laughs in, only to come to the realization that this is no joke after they witness the chaos firsthand. The man rarely says anything of substance–he, much like the fascist dictators of history, relies on repetition, fiery rhetoric, and irrationality coated with romanticism–but that doesn’t stop his followers from sticking to his words to the point of assaulting people, screaming for him to “get rid of” those who disagree with him once he becomes president, or basically worshipping him.

I used to think that he didn’t have a chance in hell of winning the election, but I am beginning to think otherwise. There is a very real possibility that we could see a Trump victory this November. There are several reasons why I think this, which I am about to get to. But we Leftists should be preparing for such an event. Not only because of the terror he will likely try to inflict against us as a movement, but also because of the danger he poses to so many people who are already oppressed and beaten down.

WHAT CAN THE LEFT DO?

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Someone buy that person a beer.

First and foremost, it should be clear that this rise of the reactionaries is just that–a reaction. It is the bourgeois far-right’s reaction to escalating unrest among the oppressed masses. It is a reaction against the various people’s movements that have been sparked over the past few years(Black Lives Matter, the fight for a higher minimum wage, the fight for the rights of immigrants and refugees, the struggle to defend unions and the rights of the working class). The people are rising up and they are speaking out, taking to the streets, demanding justice.

Last night in Chicago, the comrades there forced Trump to cancel his rally. They stood up against the reaction and shut him down. The hammer and sickle was even flashed on live television, right behind a CNN reporter. I was ecstatic when I heard this news and I want to, again, congratulate those fighters in Chicago for their victory. That is something that needs to be emulated at every Trump event. Fascism deserves no platform, and it is up to us to make sure they don’t get one.

But then there are the golden-heart liberals who, any time a window is broken, cry for the people to “be peaceful”. Yes, be peaceful in the face of violent fascists. Be peaceful in the face of murderous police. Be peaceful towards a system that wants to oppress, exploit, and kill you if you disobey. Those who hold power can swing and take shots all they wish, but we are the ones who need to learn some respect. Sure.

The reasons given for this condemnation of the people is Trump’s “right” to free speech. If you weren’t paying attention before, it is obvious that Trump is parroting the fascist dictators of the past. What does this mean when it comes to free speech? It means they don’t have it. Let me explain.

Following WWII, at the Nuremberg Trials, it was decided that fascism, since it always went hand-in-hand with mass genocide and illegal wars, is not a legitimate political ideology, but, rather, a criminal movement. This means that it is the political equivalent to the mafia. Most of the sane world recognizes this–it is why Nazi symbolism is not allowed to be spread or shown in Germany, for instance. The proposals and rhetoric of fascism are just as protected under the banner of “free speech” as the mafia’s illegal business deals are protected by “free enterprise”. That is, it’s not.

To paraphrase something a comrade of mine heard from a lawyer and passed on: Freedom of speech is like the freedom to swing your arm–you can swing it all you like, but your freedom to do so ends at the tip of my nose.

The liberals and ultra-leftists who are whining about the freedom of fascists to have a platform so as to gain traction are spitting on the graves of the countless victims of fascism all around the world. They have apparently learned nothing from history, and seem to have no problem with risking the same thing all over again. Freedom of speech protected the Nazi Party, allowed it to gain a following, then to gain political power, because how dare we prevent genocidal war-mongers from spreading their hate far and wide? How dare we think about the very possible consequences of their actions? Luckily, Germany has at least some laws to prevent another fall back into that sort of state. Too bad some “Leftists” here in the States think such a movement should be protected from the people it wishes to fucking kill.

Hell, the man even brags about wanting to commit war-crimes. If someone makes a legitimate physical threat against another person, they are arrested, but you want to tell us that a politician doing the same thing–except he wants to kill thousands, including whole families–is protected because of “free speech”? No, he is not. Threatening to break international law and to commit atrocities does not fall under the umbrella of “free speech”.

Lenin said it best, in regards to “freedom of speech”:

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Socialism, Socialism, Socialism

Despite what your post-modernist buddy says as he sips herbal tea and speaks through his wool scarf on a July afternoon, words are not just facades for the expression of abstract, unfounded ideals. They have definitive meanings relating to material conditions and concepts. I’m no linguist, but I’m pretty certain that words have definitions and, for the sake of communication, shouldn’t be considered to be a veil of gibberish. I can’t say “I’m a horse” as a way to convey my taste for spicy food.

(I know this is sounding foolish so far, but hang in there).

Too often, people–usually angry people–will spout off words that have a meaning totally different from what it is they are actually trying to say, like when Sarah Palin called some other Republican (can’t recall which one it was, and I don’t care to look it up) a “Stalinist”, or when Glenn Beck calls Hitler a “socialist”, or whenever some new Leftist starts calling everything they dislike “fascism”. All of these are examples of words being used outside of their historically recognized meanings. The number of Republicans who can be considered “Stalinists” is a big fat zero. Hitler himself misused the word “socialism” to mislead people (he referred to actual Marxist socialism as “Judeo-Bolshevism”–he wasn’t a fan). And not every politician in existence is a fascist.

The word “fascism” is probably the most over-used of these words. People have referred to everything from classical conservatism to Marxism-Leninism as “fascist”, without any explanation or material basis for the use of such a label.

But, as you probably guessed from the title, the word I am going to focus on in this post is “socialism”.

One thing I want to say before I go any further: I am very, very happy that socialism has become a hot topic. Just 10 or 20 years ago, socialism was widely seen as a word fit for horror stories, and nothing more. It was unthinkable that it would ever enter into nationwide, public discourse in any kind of serious way. But now, thanks to a certain presidential candidate, socialism, and the meaning behind it, has re-entered the mainstream domain of ideas to be reckoned with. Less and less people are fearful of it, and the number of those who support it is growing by the day. Yes, many of those who claim to support it are still ignorant to the meaning behind it. No, this does not mean people are becoming Marxists. But, the discussion has been opened, and it is up to us Marxist-Leninists to dive in head-first. This is an opportunity for us to gain at least some headway among the masses. It is our duty to enter this discussion, with cool heads and friendly debate, and say what needs to be said.

But the first thing that needs to be said is something that is directed at some of our comrades. This may sound harsh, but please bear with me: Shut the fuck up with your pseudo-anarchistic rants. So many opportunities to win people over to genuine socialism have been squandered by your childish puritanism. No one is going to listen to you if all you have to offer is a verbal onslaught against them as people. No one is going to become a Marxist overnight, especially if their only contact with a Marxist is filled with insults and one-upsmanship. People are becoming genuinely open to the idea of socialism. That openness is likely gone the moment a Marxist insults their intelligence and personal character. This isn’t a dick measuring contest, it is a real life movement we are trying to build, basically from scratch. There is no room for your ego here.

Now, with all of that said, let’s begin with the discussion.

WHAT IS SOCIALISM?

I mentioned above that the word “socialism” is becoming something of a buzzword. Its meaning is being watered down by those who do not know the theory behind it. It is not public services, it is not taxes, it is not snow plows, it is not “redistribution”. One can read the works of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, etc. if they want the full and complete understanding, but here and now, I would rather use Bill Bland’s quick summation from the introduction to his amazing book The Restoration of Capitalism in the Soviet Union(I encourage everyone to read this work, and I will probably reference it a few more times in this post).

Bland’s very brief summation of socialism is in four points:

1) the means of production are owned collectively by the workers;
2) this class of workers holds political power by controlling the state apparatus;
3) production is planned by the state; and
4) exploitation–the process of living partly or wholly on the labour of others–has been eliminated.

None of the above four points are, in any way, linked to the aims of the “democratic socialists” who are gaining so much notoriety in this country. In contrast, let’s see how Bland sums up a capitalist society (from the same work):

1) the means of production–factories, land, etc.–are owned by individuals or corporate groups of individuals called capitalists;
2) this class of capitalists holds political power by controlling the state apparatus;
3) production is regulated by the profit motive; and
4) exploitation occurs, in that capitalists live, partly or wholly, on the labour of others, i.e. of their employed workers.

All four of these characteristics will be maintained under a so-called “democratic socialist” state, and they do exist in the current democratic-socialist states of Europe. No presidential candidate in their right mind would propose the actual policies of socialism, nor would they reject the basic policies of capitalism, if they plan on making any friends at all in a bourgeois-imperialist government. And even if they wanted to, they would be totally unable, due to the purely bourgeois structure of the state itself.

Regardless of all of this, the word “socialism” is being torn from its original meaning so as to make capitalist politicians seem “nicer” and more in-tune with the needs of the people. This isn’t to say that I will reject any and all reforms that would better the conditions of the working class–I would embrace and applaud such measures. But I won’t call them “socialist” or “revolutionary”, because that isn’t what they are. However, even if they aren’t socialist in its true sense, the things being proposed by these democratic-socialists are, for the most part, necessary and progressive. If the workers had more time to develop a class consciousness–rather than spending all of their time and energy on worrying about where they will get their next meal, how they will afford to educate themselves or their families, how they will afford to keep a roof over their heads and their bodies in good health–we would be one step closer to a real revolution. But, again, these measures in and of themselves are not revolutionary or socialist.

Does this mean we Marxist-Leninists should reject all suggested reforms, just because they aren’t as “pure” as we would like? Of course not! In his piece, Marxism and Reformism, Lenin says:

Unlike the anarchists, the Marxists recognize struggle for reform, i.e. for measures that improve the conditions of the working people without destroying the power of the ruling class.

That is, we Marxists support any measures which aid the working class in their day-to-day struggle, even if such measures are put into effect by bourgeois politicians through a bourgeois state. In other words, Sanders has my vote. However, Lenin continues:

At the same time, however, the Marxists wage a most resolute struggle against the reformists, who, directly or indirectly, restrict the aims and activities of the working class to the winning of reforms. Reformism is bourgeois deception of the workers, who, despite individual improvements, will always remain wage-slaves, as long as there is the domination of capital.

So, to put these pieces together, we Marxist-Leninists uphold the usefulness of reform, while also relentlessly waging a fight against “pure” reformism so as not to persuade the workers into thinking reformism is their only path to liberation. I mean, reformism is not the whole map, just a piece of it. And it is up to us to reveal the entire map of liberation to the people. Part of this means to not let them settle merely for those bourgeois politicians who use the word “socialism”, but to help light their way even further, towards real, worker-controlled socialism. To break the domination of capital, rather than settling for a more lenient version of this domination.

Another good point relating to the above quotes of Lenin is that the sentences, “Voting is pointless,” and, “Those who don’t vote have no right to speak,” are both equally annoying and ignorant things to say. So stop.

Anyway, the question “What is socialism?” has, nonetheless, been confused by the liberals. As I’ve already pointed out, even in their confusion, it is essential that we use this opportunity to clear some things up, since, at last, this discussion has reached the mainstream.

The following picture is what brought me to write this post, after I saw it being shared by some of my well-meaning friends:

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This is way, way, way beyond a simple misuse of a word. It is overkill. It is so much of a distortion of both definition and historical fact that my head hurt after seeing it. My primary concerns are thus:

1) Socialism, as explained at the top of the picture, is obviously referring to Soviet-style socialism (Marxism-Leninism). It claims that this form of socialism–that is, real socialism–is a “failure”. Now, I could refer you to numerous pieces refuting this claim, including some of my original posts, but I will just stick with a simple refutation. The Soviet system did not collapse due to socialism. When it was on the socialist path (1917-1956) it became a super-power. Socialism made a backwater, semi-feudal society into an industrial powerhouse three times faster than capitalism has ever worked. It introduced millions of working people to a form of democracy that was, as Lenin put it, a million times more democratic than any bourgeois “democracy”. A formerly weak and chaotic area of the world was built up fast enough to rally itself against fourteen invasions within its first years of existence, as well as against the Nazi invaders less than 30 years after it was founded. The economic stagnation and eventual collapse of the USSR came after the “liberalisation” policies of Krushchev, Brezhnev, and Gorbachev. That is, the “failure” wasn’t due to socialism, but to capitalistic policies that very closely resembled what the picture above calls “democratic socialism”. (See the book by Bill Bland, which I cited above, for more information on these capitalistic policies and the resulting collapse of the USSR).

Secondly, on this point, state ownership does not equal workers collective ownership. If it did, Norway would be considered a Soviet-style socialist state. Hint: it’s not.

2) The second section of this picture, “Corporate Socialism”, is just capitalism as it has functioned throughout most of its existence. There is nothing remotely socialist about it. Every capitalist society has used the state to protect the interests of the bourgeois class. Again, the use of the state does not equate to socialism. This isn’t “corporate socialism”(which doesn’t even exist), this isn’t “crony capitalism”, it’s not even corporatism/fascism, it’s just capitalism.

3) The third part of the picture is exactly what Lenin was talking about in the second half of the quote given above–it is reformism as a tool for the domination of capital, to try to lead the people into believing that the bourgeois state is somehow capable of creating any form of socialism. For the millionth time: public services, welfare, taxes, etc. are not the sole requirements for a state to be socialist. This is simply capitalism with a smile. In its class character, it is no different than the “Corporate Socialism” also referred to. It is simply more willing to grant concessions to the working class. It is not socialist, because it does not meet any of the requirements to be a socialist system. The means of production are still owned by groups of capitalists, profit is still the main incentive behind production, and the workers are still exploited, no matter how much they receive from the bourgeois state.

In short, this picture encapsulates the hijacking of a word by the capitalists that does not belong to them or their interests, but is, in fact, in direct contradiction to their interests.

CONCLUSION

All of that being said and done, I want to emphasize that this post was not meant to attack or belittle those who are growing fond of the socialist cause. It is only to clear things up. Not just for the liberals, but for some of my fellow Marxist-Leninists who don’t seem to know how to make any argument without jumping into insults and “I’m-more-left-than-you” bullshit. The revolution is hindered by both the hijacking of the socialist cause and by the arrogance of the pseudo-anarchist anti-reformists, who have the opportunity to open up a real discussion, but instead play off of their own ego at the expense of spreading class consciousness.

Recent events and actions have brought the word “socialism” to the forefront of political discussion, something unheard of just a few years ago. And I’m very glad that I am around to take part.

-SFB